Why Should I Spay or Neuter My Rabbit?
By Chandra Moira Beal
Spaying and neutering rabbits is just as important as altering dogs and cats. There are many good reasons to spay or neuter your rabbit:
Over 15 million adoptable dogs, cats, and rabbits are killed in animal shelters in the United States every year. Unwanted rabbits are often abandoned in fields, parks, or on city streets to fend for themselves where they suffer from starvation, sickness, and are easy prey to other animals or traffic accidents. Altered rabbits won't contribute to the problem of overpopulation.
Altered rabbits tend to be healthier and livelonger than unaltered rabbits. The risk of reproductive cancers (ovarian, uterine, mammarian) for an unspayed female rabbit stands at 85%, but is virtually eliminated through spaying. Neutered males will also live longer, since they won't be tempted to fight with other animals (rabbits, cats, etc.) due to sexual aggression.
Altered rabbits also make better companions. They are calmer, more affectionate, and steady once the undeniable urge to mate has been removed. Neutered rabbits are less prone to destructive and aggressive behavior after surgery. Unneutered male rabbits spray, and both males and females are much easier to litter train after they have been altered. This makes them much easier to live with!
Rabbits are social animals and enjoy the company of other rabbits. But unless your rabbit is altered, he cannot have a friend, either of the opposite sex or the same sex, due to sexual and aggressive behaviors triggered by hormones. Altering expands the rabbit's social circle.
Females can be spayed as soon as they sexually mature, usually around 4 months of age, but many veterinarians prefer to wait until they are 6 months old, as surgery is riskier on a younger rabbit. Males can be neutered as soon as the testicles descend, usually around 3-1/2 months of age, but many veterinarians prefer to wait until they are 5 months old. If a rabbit is 6 years old, anesthetics and surgery become more risky.
Spaying and neutering for rabbits is a safe procedure when performed by experienced rabbit veterinarians (see my other article on How to Find a Veterinarian). Unfortunately, the vast majority of veterinarians aren't experienced with safe rabbit surgery techniques. Don't allow a veterinarian with little or no experience with rabbits spay or neuter your rabbit. Rabbit anatomy is different than cats and dogs, and they require different anesthesia and medication. Using isofluorene as the anesthetic and appropriate surgical and after-surgery techniques, spaying and neutering of rabbits is as safe as for any other animal.
Most veterinarians charge somewhere between $55 and $120 to alter a rabbit, while most spay and neuter clinics charge between $25 and $50 dollars. The cost is well worth the investment. Your pet will be happier, healthier and live longer, and you'll have fewer surprises (unplanned litters, shredded carpet).
Spay and neuter your pets. It's the right thing to do.
© Copyright by Chandra Moira Beal. All rights reserved.
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